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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Tag: belts

Accessories 3: Bracelets, Bags, Belts

Mark Kwak

To continue the accessories series I started a couple weeks ago, today we go over the three B's: bracelets, bags, and belts. Let's get started. I generally don't wear bracelets, but I've started to see a definite resurgence in men wearing stylish bracelets within the past few months. I've also seen people take this social acceptance of men's bracelets as full-out permission to wear fifteen different types of bracelets at one time. I certainly don't think you should go that far, but I do think that wearing a bracelet or two can help add some character to your daily outfits.

The types of bracelets that I like to see are generally made of leather, but I've definitely seen some really cool metal, string, and rope ones as well. Miansai is probably my favorite bracelet maker right now, but I've definitely seen some nice bracelets come from a variety of other more popular brands, like Ferragamo, or Brooks Brothers.

Here are a couple leather ones that I find pretty cool:

The anchor hook bracelet by Miansai is also a favorite of mine:

 

Next, bags. I've mentioned this before, but I think that a man should really make sure to own at least one bag for his daily commute and one bag for his travels. Usually, my favorite combination is one briefcase and one duffel. Sure there are also other types of bags out there, like roller carry-ons, backpacks, messenger bags, etc. but for the sake of this article, I'm sticking with my two main preferences.

With regards to briefcases, I'm generally a fan of black or brown leather briefcases. Slim in profile, simple in design. And I'm not talking about those old school boxy briefcases from back in the eighties and nineties. I'm talking about briefcases that can take a bit of a beating, look a little worn in, and that you can perhaps get a strap for to sling over your shoulder. Like this:

As for duffles (or duffels; can't seem to figure out what the right spelling is), I like canvas bags the most. They're rugged, durable, and look amazing. Of course, Filson is my go-to for canvas duffles, but I also really like the ones Everlane makes.

 

When it comes to belts, I suggest you to own at least three major belts. One black leather one, one brown leather one, and one casual belt made from any fabric as you see fit.  For example, a good casual option is a braided/woven belt. Maybe not frayed at the end like this one below, but you get the picture.

Also, keep your belts relatively subdued if they're dress belts. Overtly branded belts like below are no good in my opinion:

So there's the 3 B's: bracelets, bags, and belts. Keep a watch out once again for the last couple entries of this series soon. Cheers!

 

Take care of your belts

Mark Kwak

belts2 One article of clothing that I find myself replacing way too often are belts. Some odd reason, belts wear out on me much faster than most of my other clothes, and that's part of the reason why I don't spend all that much money on belts in the first place.

Sure, there is something to be said about buying higher quality leather belts, as quality generally correlates with longevity. However, as much as I believe in this rule with other pieces of clothing, it just doesn't ring all that true for me for belts. From my experience, whether $150 or $30, they both die on me sooner than I would like.

Well, the good news is that despite my personal beef with belts, there are some techniques to help keep your belt in tip top condition for as long as possible. Here they are below.

belts1

1. Hang your belts properly. As you can see below, I use belt hangers to let my belts hang down naturally. I don't loop them over anything, I don't roll them up, and I don't just toss them in some random drawer. They are left to breathe and hang the way they're meant to. Why do you think stores hang up belts this way?

2. Rotate multiple belts. Just like shoes, belts need some time between wearings. The more space you put in between wears, the longer your belts will likely last. I know it doesn't seem like the most cost-efficient methodology, but trust me, it'll help you in the long run.

3. Use conditioner. If you have leather conditioner for your shoes already, why not use them to nourish your leather belts? I don't think this is all that necessary, but hey, if you have the conditioner already, there's no harm; leather is leather!

4. Buy the right size. Pretty obvious, but if you buy a belt that is too small or too large, you're going to find that your belt will stretch and stress more than it needs to. The general rule of thumb is to buy a belt that is 2" above what you would wear in your pants (so 32" belt for a 30" waist), but of course it's always safer to actually try them on at the store.

belts3

These four easy techniques should help your belts last longer. We all know it's frustrating to always have to go out and buy belts due to constant wear and tear, so please do yourself a favor and try to delay the future stress as much as humanly possible.

Style rules - part 3

Mark Kwak

And we're back. Ralph Lauren style rules part 3, and my thoughts on them.

This one is very important. It truly does make a huge difference when wearing a suit, and can distinguish you from others in the pack who don't get it. Suit jackets look best when properly tailored, and sleeve length is usually the first place to start. Sleeves that end halfway down your palm or at your upper forearm look sloppy. Instead, make sure you wear a properly fitted dress shirt when fitting your suit jacket, and leave some room for that shirt cuff to show.

Okay, here's the first rule that I flat out disagree with. Nothing wrong with it, and I see why they see it this way, but I just have a differing opinion. I personally think your first suit should be charcoal in color. It's the most versatile, and can be worn in almost all situations where you wear a suit. The second suit should be navy, like mentioned above, as it's equally versatile and classic as the charcoal, and is a wardrobe essential. Both the charcoal and navy suits should be solid in color, with no plaid or stripe designs.

Now once you've gotten the two main basics, then you can start to branch out. Going seasonal (like tan for the summer), patterned (like pinstripes), or black (like... black) are all fair game in my opinion. I personally would still stay on the path of remaining classic, and get myself a mid-grey suit. It's still just as versatile as the others, and  looks great in almost all situations. Again, I personally would avoid any patterns on this suit as well.

So there you have it, my recommendation is: First suit - Solid Charcoal. Second suit - Classic Navy. Third suit - Mid-Grey.

To be honest, I don't know that many people who wear suspenders, but either way, this is a good rule to know and lock in your head in case you do start wearing them. Wear a belt or suspenders, but not both. Quite simple as that.

Alright, well there you have it. Three more rules for all of us to keep in mind when dressing ourselves in the morning.

One thing I will mention is that the important part of all of this, is that you know the rules of style, not necessarily that you follow them. Those who have the best minds and eyes in fashion generally have the rules down pat, it's just they know how to break the rules just as comfortably. Something to think about.

Ask me: wave #3

Mark Kwak

Thanks so much for all the questions guys. As some of you may know, I've been answering you directly via email, but I wanted to post up a couple more questions (and my answers) for all to see. Without further ado...

I had a question about the quality on Uniqlo's products. Their dress shirts seem super inexpensive, do you own any of them? How do they hold up? I'm looking to slowly upgrade my wardrobe and if their dress shirts, especially their no-iron are high quality, it seems like a great option. -Ed

Sure! As you know I'm a big fan of Uniqlo, and have been for a while. They make nice quality, basic clothing at reasonable prices. I actually do own a couple dress shirts of theirs, and I stand by their quality. Now, I wouldn't say that they are revolutionary, or mind blowing... but at $30 bucks, I didn't expect them to be. However, I think they're better constructed, then say, Gap or maybe even Banana Republic, so for the price, you're getting a bargain.

Also, I'm a big fan of non-iron shirts, as I travel for work often and it makes it so easy, but I do hear that non-iron shirts don't hold up in the long term due to the chemical properties infused into the clothing. Haven't noticed this myself 1st hand, but could definitely see this being the case. Your mileage may vary, but just a warning. As a result, I generally buy 100% regular cotton, without non-iron.

Do you have any belt recommendations? Every time I buy a belt it seems to lose its function very quickly. I'm looking for both business and casual belts to add to my wardrobe. -Adam

Ah belts... my unending love/hate relationship with them. I personally do not buy very high end belts because they inevitably wear out, and it's always frustrating if I spent a lot of money on them. However, I will say that you shouldn't just find some cheap belt and call it a day.

Ultimately there are a couple things you need to think about:

1. Shoes. What color / material are most of your shoes? We want to match our belts as best to our footwear as possible. Make sure you have all your blacks covered with a nice, thin black leather belt, your browns with a leather in a matching shade of brown (doesn't have to be exact, but close), and a casual belt that can usually either be brown, grey, or black as well.

2. Next, material and width. Dress belts are always leather. Consistency of the leather should change based on shoes again. Crocodile shoes? Crocodile belts. Casual belts on the other hand, can be a number of materials. I think all materials are fair game, but keep colors a bit muted so they match with more, unless you have a variety of belts, in which case get whatever you want to stand out. Width should be 1 and 1/4" wide for dress belts, and can be any width that fits in your loops if casual. I prefer slimmer belts though.

3. Size. Buy belts a size larger than your pants. Wear a 30W pair of pants? Get a 32W belt.

4. Brands: If you're willing to spend a bit more, go to a nice shoe company like Allen Edmonds, Alden, etc. They make some great belts in a variety of blacks and browns. If not, head to a Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls. You'll get a belt cheap, and generally at a decent discount from retail price. Look for "Genuine Leather" and a bit of grain on the belt itself. Most of these brands will be similar in quality, so just find a design and feel that you enjoy. Expect to replace every couple years.

How do you feel about a gray suit with camel colored shoes? - Obed

Great question man. This is a bit tricky, but I'll try to explain as best as I can. A grey suit is one of the most versatile pieces you can wear. The camel shoes, on the other hand, are not as liberal. However, I think that the two can be pulled off, assuming a couple things. But before I got into that, let me try and put down a foundation for you:

Lighter grey suits can go with light brown, dark brown, and black shoes.

Darker grey or charcoal suits can go with dark brown and black shoes, but not as well with light brown shoes.

Just from this, you can probably tell that charcoal or dark grey suits will likely not work with camel shoes. So that's out. However, with a light grey suit, it may be possible to still look good depending on how light the shoes are.

If they are more like a light brown, and you have a matching belt, I'd say that I wouldn't count the combination out, and it can actually work great. However, if they're closer to a light beige, then I would advise against. The contrast might be a bit too high, and peoples' attention will go straight to your shoes, and not your outfit as a whole.

Hope that helps!